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Daily Howler: Six years later, a lawless old dean explains why he pandered to Bush
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BRODER CONFESSES! Six years later, a lawless old dean explains why he pandered to Bush: // link // print // previous // next //

DRUM DOES IT AGAIN: This is a very important post by red-hot Kevin Drum. But Kevin’s most important point goes by so fast that we thought it deserved repetition. As he starts, Kevin quotes Stephen Bainbridge explaining why voter ID requirements are just no big deal:
BAINBRIDGE: You can't do anything in this country anymore without a photo ID. You can't drive. You can't fly. You can't cash a check, except maybe at the sleaziest places. You can't get a job. But you can vote, as long as the Democrats get their way. I guess voter fraud is a core part of the Democratic plan for victory.
Kevin’s response to this point deserves mention: “But guess what? Outside of Westwood lots of people don't do these things! And they overwhelmingly tend to be poor, non-white, elderly, and disabled.”

It’s rare to see pundits express this point. Kevin is saying something that may not have occurred to Bainbridge; many people in this country don’t drive, or fly, or cash checks, or get standard jobs. Many people are still outside the systems that require photo ID. And by the way: When their children show up for kindergarten, they are often years behind conventional norms, even then. Their plight is almost never discussed (or addressed), not even by our brilliant “educational experts.” As a result, they “fail to thrive”—as our “experts” type more dumb-ass op-eds. (If you’re gluttons for punishment, just click here. We expect to discuss this next week.)

Kevin’s point is rarely made. We thought it deserved repetition.

BRODER CONFESSES: Everyone can see it now—something is bad wrong with President Bush. In Thursday’s Post, even the Dean of All Washington Pundits savaged this strange, lawless man:
BRODER (9/21/06): [S]wayed by some inner impulse or the influence of Dick Cheney, he has proved to be lawless and reckless. He started a war he cannot finish, drove the government into debt and repeatedly defied the Constitution.
The sitting president is “lawless and reckless.” Coming from this timid Dean, that judgment is truly a milestone.

But in this same column, this Dean of All Pundits serves up a startling confession. Finally, more than six years later, we’re finally told why this Pundit Dean worked so hard to put Bush where he is. Here is Broder’s fuller passage about our “lawless” commander:
BRODER: Bush was elected twice, over Democrats Al Gore and John Kerry, whose know-it-all arrogance rankled Midwesterners such as myself. The country thought Bush was a pleasant, down-to-earth guy who would not rock the boat. Instead, swayed by some inner impulse or the influence of Dick Cheney, he has proved to be lawless and reckless. He started a war he cannot finish, drove the government into debt and repeatedly defied the Constitution.
Remarkable! Apparently, Broder was too dumb to know how to parse Bush’s record in Texas (more below). Staring out dimly from fine press corps suites, he somehow believed, during Campaign 2000, that Candidate Bush was “a pleasant, down-to-earth guy who would not rock the boat.” Meanwhile, The Dean was rankled by Candidate Gore, bothered by his “know-it-all-arrogance.” Result? Today, he moans about Bush’s conduct, pretending that none of it could have been forecast. And as we mentioned just this Wednesday, he and the rest of his worthless old cohort still won’t admit they were wrong about Gore. (Nor would they do so, or change their scripts, if Gore ran again in 2008.) “They hate Gore,” Mickey Kaus said, reporting from New Hampshire in January 2000. (Kaus’ emphasis. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/20/00). Six years later, Broder cops, and even explains; his powdered cohort hated Gore because Gore had a “know-it-all arrogance.” Of course, Broder himself is too dumb and too arrogant to explain just what those starting words mean. The insult is simply typed up again, justification for Broder’s bad judgments.

Of course, Gore did know a great deal in 2000, when he staged his run for the White House. Once again, so we’ll know what we’re talking about, here is one of the world’s top climate scientists, describing Gore’s background on one major issue. As he starts, James Hansen refers to a falling-out he had with Gore about global warming:
HANSEN (7/13/06): I did not hear from Gore for more than a decade, until January of this year, when he asked me to critically assess his slide show. When we met, he said that he “wanted to apologize,” but, without letting him explain what he was apologizing for, I said, "Your insight was better than mine."

Indeed, Gore was prescient. For decades he has maintained that the Earth was teetering in the balance, even when doing so subjected him to ridicule from other politicians and cost him votes. By telling the story of climate change with striking clarity in both his book and movie, Al Gore may have done for global warming what Silent Spring did for pesticides. He will be attacked, but the public will have the information needed to distinguish our long-term well-being from short-term special interests.
As a matter of fact, Candidate Gore did know a great deal—even more, we’re told, than this great climate scientist. But we happen to live in a startling time—a time when tired old losers like Broder hold knowledge against the people who have it. Now he pretends there was no way to see the problems with the man for whom he pandered during Campaign 2000. And six years later, in belated confession, we’re told that Kaus’ words were accurate. They did “hate Gore” during Campaign 2000. And they worked to put Bush where he is.

Not that this was hard to spot in real time—although few liberals bothered discussing it, even after Kaus’ assessment. Did Broder have a jones about Candidate Gore? Just remember the open contempt he showed after Gore’s convention speech—a speech which thoroughly rocked the polls and changed the campaign’s dynamic. Here was Broder, discussing the candidate who wasn’t “lawless and reckless”—the candidate who wasn’t the consummate dope, the candidate who did have lots of knowledge:
BRODER (8/20/00): In tone and substance, Vice President Al Gore's acceptance speech on the final night of the Democratic National Convention was like nothing I have heard in 40 years of covering both parties' quadrennial gatherings.

Usually these acceptance speeches are attempts to take you to the mountaintop and show you the future. Gore's was more a request to step inside a seminar room, listen closely and take notes.
As he continued, Broder openly mocked Gore’s attention to matters of substance. “One more paragraph and he would have been onto the budget of the Bureau of Indian Affairs,” the clowning pundit complained. “He mentioned only three aspects of what was, in fact, a significant record in the House and Senate. But, my, how he went on about what he wants to do as president.” (Imagine that!) Then came one of the most remarkable paragraphs in recent press corps history:
BRODER: I have to confess, my attention wandered as he went on through page after page of other swell ideas, and somewhere between hate crimes legislation and a crime victim's constitutional amendment, I almost nodded off.
Amazing! Openly mocking Gore’s “swell ideas,” Broder said the speech was so dull that it almost put him to sleep! Broder also managed to tick off a list of idiot themes the press had devised to take down this vile, troubling man. Incredibly, the fancy hotel was in Broder’s column; so was invented the Internet—and so was Love Story. Nor did Broder fail to note that Gore “often has been accused of attack-dog tactics” and “often drags out his sentences in pedantic fashion.” Just for the record, let’s note this again—Gore’s speech had a been a giant hit with voters who watched it out in the states. Having monitored viewer reaction, Republican Frank Luntz rushed on the air at MSNBC shortly after Gore’s speech ended, reporting that it had been “a home run.” But Broder had a jones against Gore—a fact he has finally acknowledged this week. And so, he was willing to play the fool to tell us how dull Gore had been.

Of course, Bush’s speech had been different. Two weeks earlier, that “pleasant, down-to-earth guy” had given his own convention address. No, Bush’s speech didn’t move the polls the way Gore’s later speech would do. But Broder knew the fix was in—and he pandered hard:
BRODER (8/6/00): Lifted by an acceptance speech of exceptional eloquence and powered by a party enjoying unusual unity, Texas Gov. George W. Bush embarks on the final stage of his quest for the White House with prospects that almost measure up to his brimming self-confidence.

He has passed the first three tests on the way to the presidency with room to spare. He won the nomination early and with minimal bloodshed. He picked a solid running mate in former defense secretary Dick Cheney...And the acceptance speech he delivered Thursday night was a success.

It contained almost everything good political rhetoric can provide—humor, personal warmth, effective jibes at the opposition and glimpses of what his father, the former president, used to call "the vision thing." And Bush had rehearsed it enough to make it his own.
Kiss, kiss, kiss-kiss, kiss-kiss-kiss-kiss! There you saw a phony old fixer—heaping praise on the less successful address, waiting to say, two weeks later, that Gore’s more successful speech had been deadly—so dull that it almost put him to sleep. And at last, this week, we’re told why this happened. Poor Broder! He comes from humble fly-over country, and he’d been dissed by that know-it-all Gore! So he played the fixer for a know-nothing fool. He worked his routes to enthrone a man he now says is “lawless and reckless.”

By the way, how bad was Broder’s judgment about Candidate Bush? No, Bush’s deviance wasn’t fully predictable, but Broder is a screaming fool to pretend that the problems could not be foreseen. Just re-read this piece by Lou Dubose—a Nation piece from April 1999—if you think that Bush’s kleptocratic style is something that emerged from thin air. Dubose spelled it out rather clearly: The handing of major Texas state agencies to Bush’s grasping corporate cronies; the large tax favors to the rich; the refusal to attend to the health of poor children, even when the feds were paying; the compromised earlier business career; and, alas, forerunner to Broder, “a capital press corps that is so friendly to the governor that some reporters regularly violate the state's archaic sodomy statute, which Bush supports.” We’d have skipped the sodomy business ourselves, but then, as now, the “press” had surrendered. According to Dubose, the Texas press corps had walked off its posts long before Bush announced for the White House. And then, in the months after Bush announced, the great Dean Broder walked off his post too. He proved it with that bizarre pair of columns about those crucial convention speeches. And now, this week, he has finally confessed; just as Mickey Kaus (and Al Hunt) had said, this lazy old man hated Gore.

David Broder’s column this week is an important part of recent world history. Six years later, he finally describes his own remarkable set of misjudgments. But please note: He still pretends that Gore was a bad man, and that there were no troubling signs from Bush. Nor does he tell you what he did because of his own self-pitying judgments. But go ahead! Re-read that remarkable pair of columns about the 2000 convention speeches. You’re gazing on the work of a crook—a fixer, a con man, a corrupt, lawless pundit. And you’re seeing how a similar “lawless” man ended up where he now is.

How did Bush ever get to the White House? We’ve been trying to tell you for years. And at last, this week, David Broder confesses! Six long, troubling years have passed. Six years later, a lawless old dean has finally explained what he’s done.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: On a somewhat more modest scale, Broder clowned with the convention speeches in 2004 too. Here were the respective Post headlines:
BRODER ON BUSH, 2004: A Speech That Delivered the Goods
BRODER ON KERRY, 2004: A Speech Without Wings
See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/7/04. Prepare for the same in 08.